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Author Topic: Sex of the Witch / Il sesso della strega (Angelo Pannaccio, 1973)  (Read 13249 times)

Johan Melle

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Are there any other fans of this sordid, silly trash masterpiece from the ever-fascinating Angelo Pannaccio? It's a really rare film that I've hardly ever seen being discussed in spite of its really cool cast. After finally watching this weird and wonderful film I thought I'd share some of my enthusiasm for it.

SEX OF THE WITCH is a weird giallo of sorts with a Jeckyll and Hyde-style supernatural plotline thrown in for good measure. It deals with the a rich family called the Hiltons and as the film starts, the head of the family, Sir Thomas Hilton, is on his death bed. He is surrounded by all of his nieces and nephews who have faithfully come to be with him in his final moments. No, actually, most of them are there to collect their inheritance. And while poor Sir Thomas is drawing his final breaths, the mansion's perverted servant couple are fucking like crazy on top of the casket Sir Thomas is soon to be buried in - a really tasteless sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film. Anyway, the old uncle dies and the greedy cousions (which includes familiar faces like Camille Keaton and bitchy, blonde Lorenza Guerrieri from SCHOOLGIRL KILLER and FEMINA RIDENS) gather for the reading of the will. The vast fortune is to be devided in equal parts among the cousins and also the uncle's young gay lover (Gianni Dei from GIALLO A VENEZIA and PATRICK STILL LIVES). However, there's a clause in the will that each of the heirs will have to turn 30 before they can collect their inheritance. Should anyone of them die before hitting 30, their share will be devided among the survivors. Well now! Don't you just smell a good motive for murder already? We also learn that Sir Thomas has disinherited his only daughter, Evelyn (played by the one and only Jessica Dublin, whose amazing career is worthy of a separate thread or perhaps an entire book) because she is a mean and hateful bitch. Unfortunately, Evelyn is the only one who knows the mysterious "secret of the Hiltons", which Sir Thomas had hoped to take with him to the grave. Anyway, the cousins soon start dying one by one as they are offed by a mysterious killer (who isn't wearing black gloves for a change). I won't reveal any more; except that it all has something to do with "the secret of the Hiltons!"

If SEX OF THE WITCH is somewhat lacking in gore and blood, it more than makes up for this in terms of sheer lunacy and sleaze. There's plenty of sex and nudity, a woman who spends most of the film making erotic clay sculptures, Camille Keaton's creepy brother having incestuous feelings for her, a totally irrelevant but cool psychedelic nightclub sequence that ends in an orgy, Camille ending up all catatonic and fucked-up like in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, 70s mod fashions and funky decor, an agreeable score with lulling female vocals (also used briefly in FRANKENSTEIN 80), and lots of familiar genre veterans like Donal O'Brien in a rare sympathetic role as the inept police inspector, crazy-looking Franco Garofalo from HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and the sexy Marzia Damon from THE HAND THAT FEEDS DEATH as the horny servant couple. On top of it all, the method the killer uses to disguise his/her identity has to be the craziest I've ever seen in a giallo, and that's saying something! A lot of it doesn't make that much sense, though, and it may be too weird for some but I loved every minute of this trashy gem!

Unfortunately, it's not too easy to get hold of. I saw it via a Dutch release that was in Italian with Dutch subs. Thanks to very limited knowledge of Italian and knowing a bit of Dutch I was still able to follow the plot. I don't think this has ever shown up on vhs in an English dub but the IMDb lists THE EVIL EYE as its US title. Does anyone know if this was actually released theatrically under that title? Or has someone perhaps confused it with Mario Siciliano's THE EVIL EYE from 1974? In any case, I hope SEX OF THE WITCH gets a dvd release as it really deserves one. Angelo Pannaccio is a really fascinating director. He later made the even crazier HOLOCAUST: THE MEMORIES, DELIRIUM AND THE VENDETTA, PART TWO (1978) and several hardcore pornos with Marina Frajese.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this one?






Jonny

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I'd never even heard of it until you just mentioned it Johan, sounds really good though. Be very interesting to hear if anyone's ever seen an English dub of it.
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Inspector Tanzi

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I'd never even heard of it until you just mentioned it Johan
me neither
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Johan Melle

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I guess it boils down to the fact that very few people have actually seen it. That's a real shame, though, because I think it could prove a popular sleaze favorite if it was ever released with English options.

Another funny thing is the plot outline at IMDb:
"An archaeology student discovers a strange medallion. It turns out that the medallion is inhabited by a female succubus, who takes possession of him and forces him to commit a series of murders."
Whoever wrote that obviously saw a totally different film. I believe the above plot outline may actually refer to CRIES AND SHADOWS (1975), which Pannaccio is credited with directing but apparantly didn't actually direct...

IL COMMISSARIO

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This one sounds really good! Donald O'Brien, Garafalo and Keaton would be worth the purchase alone for me.
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MarcMorris

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I have the Dutch video release, which is in Italian with Dutch subs. Don't think there's an English dub anywhere.
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Rogerio Ferraz

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Finally watched this via the Lamberto Forni italian vhs edition - what a great film!! I can say for certain that it totally lived up to my expectations!  ::)
Probably not everyone´s cup of tea, but I just loved the almost soap-opera feel and the whole bizarre and sleazy atmosphere throughout the film. Unfortunately, of all the missing scenes mentioned by Johan in the cineromanzi thread, apparently only one made into this italian version. Here´s a screenshot of the scene:

According to videoarcheologia.it, a detailed description of the differences between the dutch and italian versions can be found at the march 2006 edition (#44) of Nocturno. Does any have this particular issue?  :'(


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Johan Melle

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Cool! Thanks for posting that, Rogerio! Very, very interesting! I had no idea the Dutch release was incomplete but it's great to see that the sex scene with Gianni Dei and Annamaria Tornelli exists. I'd really love to see the scene with Franco Garofalo and Marzia Damon in the coffin too as well as the others... Aaah, I can dream.

Yes, the film is not everyone's cup of tea but it has a unique atmosphere of depravity that is contrasted by its lush opening theme, and the cast is top notch for this sort of thing. Now, if only we'd get a good DVD release!

vigilanteforce

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That other Pannaccio film I had watched CRIES AND SHADOWS was painfully bad... Hope this one is better.
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Johan Melle

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Although Pannaccio is credited as the director of CRIES AND SHADOWS, it was apparently directed by his frequent collaborator, Franco Lo Cascio, instead. This is but it's not really an uncommon phenomenon. For example, Sergio Garrone is listed as the director of the two Ajita Wilson WIP films HELL BEHIND BARS and HELL PENITENTIARY (made back to back in 1983) even though they were in fact directed by Gianni Siragusa. I'm not sure of why, though. Maybe it was for financial reasons.
As for Lo Cascio, he is better known as a porno director and he used to be married to Patrizia Gori, who also appears in CRIES AND SHADOWS.

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Now I'm intrigued by that Italian version.  I also have the Dutch subtitled version.  L. Forni is another of those sell-through companies like Shendene that released some gorgeous widescreen tapes in the nineties.  I have their cassettes of DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER and VELUTTO NERO (which is almost as beautiful as the DVD release).

vigilanteforce

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Lamberto Forni Video kicks ass! Their MANGIATI VIVI tape looked great and so does a tape of PAPAYA which I own. The fotobustas of MANGIATI that can be seen in the back cover of their tape I bought straight from them  :D
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Andrew Monroe

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I`d really like to see an english-friendly version of this! Camille Keaton mentions it briefly during her interview on the Tragic Ceremony disc, and was also questioned about it in an Ultra Violent magazine Q&A. It`s funny that she confesses she had no idea what the film was about, and she asked one of the other actresses what they were doing in a scene and what, by the by, was the film about...she didn`t know either. After reading Johan`s fab review above I`m not surprised though. There`s a really striking poster image in the UV mag, very giallo-like, with a woman being menaced by black-gloved hands.
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Johan Melle

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There`s a really striking poster image in the UV mag, very giallo-like, with a woman being menaced by black-gloved hands.

That's funny because the killer doesn't wear black gloves in this film. I wonder if that is the re-used poster art from BYLETH (1972) as I believe the two films used some of the same artwork.

Stephen Grimes

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Love that creepy harpsicord music that plays over the death scene of Sir Thomas though i swear i've heard it somewhere before,anyone have any idea?
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